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Agamemnon | Stasimon 3 | Summary

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Summary

The Chorus feels a sense of dread. Agamemnon has returned, and the war is over. But premonitions, the "tuneless dirge" of the Furies, make them feel hopeless. They pray the premonitions do not depict reality.

Fates can change, the Chorus says. Healthy men can get sick or grieve. Men can stave off misfortune by getting rid of some of their wealth and trusting the gods to provide. But once a man is murdered, he cannot return. If the Chorus members thought there was hope of changing fate, they would describe their forebodings, but they remain silent without hope.

Analysis

Dreams recur: the Chorus wishes its fears were only "enigmatic dreams." Instead, the Chorus hums a tuneless dirge, or funeral song. Although they do not foresee death as clearly as Cassandra will, they sense what is to come. Tension is rising and building slowly.

The past is ever present, even though it seems far away. Although the Trojan War just ended, the Chorus feels time has "buried deep in sand" the ships sailing to Troy. Time is flexible in the play. Not much time passes on stage, but characters discuss events spanning the distant past and future.

The notion of changing fates prepares the audience for the role reversal, or peripeteia, at the play's climax. Peripeteia, the turning point, changes the protagonist's fate from good to bad. The Chorus uses the motif of the sea's unpredictability as a metaphor. Men can wreck on the reefs and lose their wealth at any time. Humans must deal with disease, hunger, and mortality, while the gods do not. Respecting cosmic forces is the only way to avoid "the plague of famine."

The gods keep humans in place by ensuring mortality. Zeus's thunderbolt warned humans in the past not to resurrect the dead. As the Chorus acknowledges the power of the gods, it recognizes human helplessness in preventing coming events.

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